The Russian expert, ‘the president is not cornered but has no capacity for escalation’
The Kerch bridge, which connects Russia to Crimea, was “the flagship of the regime” of Vladimir Putin and if the attack has a “high symbolic value”, it has less from a military point of view. For Putin it was not possible to avoid replying to this attack and the escalation of missiles against Ukrainian cities, including Kiev, is “a huge message also on the domestic front” to show that “the regime is strong”. This was stated by Alexander Dunaev, expert of the Russian International Affairs Council (Riac) and collaborator of Carnegie Moscow, who in an interview with Adnkronos believes that Putin “is not yet with his back to the wall”.
The attack on the bridge, strategic for military supplies, did not have such negative consequences for the Russian army, explains Dunaev, according to which “what matters here is the symbolic dimension” since the roads were destroyed “only in part “and the transit of cars is again possible, while the railway line” can be restored in a relatively short time “.
The Russian expert declares that the heavy missile raid that raised the alarm in the main Ukrainian cities, including in Lviv, and which many observers believe to be Moscow’s retaliation, “is not the regime’s latest act of desperation, which it still has a margin of resilience “.
‘Surovikin is a ruthless character, he does not stop in front of possible massacres’
According to Dunaev, although Moscow wants to trigger an escalation in Ukraine, in reality it does not seem to have sufficient means at the moment. “I don’t know how many missile attacks like this one can still carry out – he comments – Russian missile reserves are running out and sanctions are also slowing down the production rate of the war industry. Suffice it to say that in recent weeks Ukrainian sources claim that the Russians have used for the attacks the S-300, which is a defensive missile system “. For the Riac expert, “the will to do harm is there, I have doubts about the ability to do it”.
Dunaev invites you to read the latest series of attacks on civilian targets with Moscow’s need not to show itself in trouble. “This is a regime that is afraid of being seen as weak and therefore an attack on the bridge cannot go unanswered, especially in front of Russian citizens. This whole special military operation is a huge message for the home front”, continues the expert. , according to which the invasion of Ukraine took place at a time when Putin was losing “popularity”. The replicated model is that of 2014, when with the invasion of Crimea the government tried to hide “the long line of failures” of previous years.
The change of pace attempted by Moscow to get out of the shallows of the conflict led to the appointment of General Sergei Surovikin, commander of the Russian forces in Ukraine also known as ‘General Armageddon’. “A ruthless character – Dunaev defines him – whose fame, as well as the massacres of civilians in Idlib in Syria, is also known in Russia. During the putsch of 1991, then captain of the Soviet forces, he gave the order to attack the demonstrators . Three people died in that putsch and they were all due to Surovikin’s orders. The signal of a man who already 30 years ago did not stop in front of possible massacres “.
‘via Shoigu? I don’t think it will be removed as long as there is war ‘
The Russian expert has doubts about the rumors of a possible torpedoing of the Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, on whom there would be strong pressure from the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and the founder of the Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin.
“It is true, there are strong tensions in the regime, but I don’t think Shoigu can be removed. In 22 years of the regime, Putin – even if a person close to him made mistakes – never removed it immediately so as not to create too much scandal. Also because he would have implicitly admitted that he had made the wrong choice. His tactic has always been different, that of waiting for things to calm down, and for this reason I think that Shoigu will not be removed as long as the war goes on. There would also be the problem who to put in his place, “says Dunaev.
Shoigu has two strengths, according to the expert. “The first is that it ensures the loyalty of the army to Putin – he concludes – The second is its inability to lead the army to victory because one who becomes too popular for his military successes then – as Russian history teaches – can become a threat to the supreme commander “.